'This Is Sabotage': Trump Cuts Obamacare Outreach Budget By 90%

The Trump administration has announced that it will slash Obamacare’s enrollment outreach and advertising budget by 90 percent—from $100 million to $10 million—a move critics denounced as a deliberate act of sabotage and a “huge dereliction” of responsibility.

“By gutting these programs the administration will likely drive down enrollment and poison the ACA marketplaces.”
—Craig Obey, Families USA

“We have been worrying about stealth sabotage. This is open, aggressive sabotage,” wrote Eliot Fishman, senior director of policy at Families USA.

Ben Wikler, the Washington director of MoveOn.org, called the cuts “disgusting” and said they “will cost lives.”

“They changed the [enrollment] deadlines this year,” Wikler observed. “Without ads, people will miss the window to get insured.”

The Trump administration also announced that “grants to about 100 nonprofit groups, known as navigators, that help people enroll in health plans offered by the insurance marketplaces will be cut to a total of $36 million, from about $63 million,” the New York Times reported Thursday.

Activists and healthcare experts sharply condemned the administration’s plan, arguing that navigators play an essential role in informing the public about their insurance options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Attempting to justify cuts to ACA outreach efforts, Department of Health and Human Services officials suggested that everyone is already aware of their coverage opportunities under Obamacare, and that spending on advertising for the law’s open enrollment period—which is from November 1 to December 15, over a month shorter than last year’s—is unnecessary.

Those involved in outreach insisted that nothing could be further from the truth.